Sore throats are extremely common. Sore throat is usually caused by a harmless viral throat infection which will get better by itself. You may have bacterial tonsillitis if you have pus on your tonsils (the two clumps of tissue on either side of your throat), painful glands in your neck and fever – but no cough. The Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever, is responsible for about 1 to 10 out of 100 cases.
Your sore throat is likely to get better within 3 to 7 days (and a maximum of 2 weeks) without the need for treatment by a health professional. Most sore throats last for an average of eight days.
You won’t need antibiotics (which can often do more harm than good if given unnecessarily) for most throat infections.
GPs don’t normally prescribe antibiotics for sore throats as they are usually caused by viral infection; hence antibiotics will not work. A GP will only prescribe if they think you have a bacterial infection.
Seek medical advice if your symptoms are no better after two weeks or if you have frequent sore throats that do not respond to pain killers.
Warning symptoms and signs include:
If you would like to view any of the previous information in a downloadable Word document, click here.